Copper is a classic cookware material that professional chefs have used for many years. Truthfully, you’d be hard-pressed to find a cook who doesn’t love a good copper pot. Unfortunately, however, there isn’t a lot of discussion about its benefits, drawbacks, uses, and care.
That’s why we’ve created this article, which discusses everything you need to know about copper utensils. Curious about the ins and outs of copperware? Here’s all the information you need:
- 1 Is Pure Copper Cookware Safe?
- 2 Are Copper Pans Better Than Stainless Steel Pans?
- 3 How to Clean Copper Cookware
- 4 How to Season Copper Cookware
- 5 When Not to Use Copper Pans
- 6 Does Copper Cookware Work on Induction Cooktops?
- 7 Advantages of Copper Cookware
- 8 Disadvantages of Copper Cookware
- 9 Conclusion
Is Pure Copper Cookware Safe?
Copper pots and pans are safe if you use them correctly. The interior lining prevents the food from getting a metallic taste or germs. We recommend not scraping or chipping the lining when cooking since copper may react with food. However, this cookware needs proper care and maintenance during and after cooking. So, you must clean and polish it frequently to maintain its shiny exterior.
Are Copper Pans Better Than Stainless Steel Pans?
There’s a lot of debate around copper and stainless steel cookware, with everyone wondering which cookware material is the better choice.
The choice is ultimately yours to make. But here are some crucial factors for consideration:
Copper cookware’s exterior is, of course, copper, with less reactive metals lining the interior. It ensures that copper does not react with acidic foods. However, the reactive metal from the copper lining in your pan can give your food a metallic, tangy taste that some people dislike.
Many cookware companies use copper on the bottom of aluminum or copper-core utensils. Why? Because it reduces the overall cost while preserving copper’s excellent heat conductivity.
The most popular stainless steel cookware constructions are either impact-bonded or fully clad. Impact-bonded utensils are the cheaper option, but they don’t provide even heating effects. Bonding the interior and exterior steel layers to an aluminum core makes fully-clad utensils, and these types ensure good heat conductivity.
Copper and stainless steel cookware are high-end cookware materials with shiny, polished surfaces that are very eye-catching. The difference is that stainless steel cookware has a modern, sleek look that pairs well with many kitchen styles and aesthetics. In contrast, copper cookware gives a more rustic look that stands out and adds character to any kitchen. They’re an especially great option if you prefer pleasant, homey aesthetics.
3. Heat Conduction
Chefs love using copper cookware because it conducts heat quicker than stainless steel and distributes it evenly. But although copper heats quickly, cooking with copper utensils requires more skill and attention.
Stainless steel cookware needs better heat conduction. Thus, a copper or aluminum core is added to the cookware to improve its conductivity. But even with that, it takes longer for stainless steel pans to heat up, making them cumbersome in high-tension environments like restaurant kitchens.
In addition to excellent heat conductivity, copper is more responsive to temperature changes from a constant heat source. It is ideal for recipes that need temperature control, such as caramels or sauces. On the other hand, you need to pay great attention, or your food may burn quickly if the heat is too high.
5. Oven-Safe Temperatures
Copper cookware has different metals in its lining, so its oven safety varies. For example, copper pots and pans with a stainless steel lining can support temperatures up to 800°F. But tin-lined cookware has a low melting point because tin starts melting around 4500oF
Stainless steel pots and pans have oven-safe temperatures around 5000°F to 8000°F. Read the instructions carefully since the cookware manufacturer mentions oven-safe temperatures.
Stainless steel cookware has more durability than copper cookware. It is resistant to corrosion and retains its shape even after frequent use. Of course, it can have scratches and dents, but stainless steel cookware will last longer and retain its quality. It’s also better than carbon steel since it is more durable and resistant to rust and oxidation.
Copper is a softer metal, so copperware is more easily scratched or damaged. Its exterior can dull quickly, so you must polish it frequently to maintain its look.
7. Cleaning and Maintenance
Copper cookware requires more care than stainless steel. You need to take care so you don’t damage the inner soft metal lining, and the utensils need to be dry before putting them away to avoid rust.
A soft cloth and a mild detergent are perfect for cleaning copper cookware. This will prevent scratches and discoloration. Avoid using dishwashers, high temperatures, harsh chemicals, or detergents to wash the exterior.
Copper cookware quickly oxidizes and corrodes, giving it a greenish-brown color. Polish your cookware regularly to prevent oxidation and maintain its lovely color.
Hand-wash your stainless steel pan or pot; do not use a dishwasher, or it will scratch the cookware. Read the manufacturer label to check for more instructions on its cleaning and maintenance.
You don’t need a cloth or a towel to dry stainless steel cookware. However, a rainbow tint or water spots may appear on it over time; spend some time polishing it every month to preserve the shine on the stainless steel exterior.
How to Clean Copper Cookware
Cookware cleaning methods vary depending on the type of finish on the cookware. Use mild dish soap and water if it has a lacquer finish, then dry it off with a soft cloth. How do you know if it has a lacquer finish? Dip a microfiber cloth in the baking soda and vinegar mixture and lightly rub the copper cookware’s surface. It is unlacquered if all impurities are removed. Avoid using a dishwasher even if you see the label “dishwasher safe” to reduce your chances of damaging it while washing.
How to Season Copper Cookware
Seasoning copper cookware is vital since it helps maintain the condition and quality of the utensils.
Start by cleaning your new copper pan; a quick wipe-down with a towel or a soft cloth is good enough. Next, apply oil with a high smoking point over the pan using a tissue or a cloth. This ensures you only have a thin layer of oil on the pan.
You can use vegetable, grape seed, peanut, or canola oils.
After adding oil, heat the pan on the stove until it starts smoking. Then, take it off the heat and let it cool down. Once it is at room temperature, wipe any leftover oil from the pan’s surface.
For used copper cookware, thoroughly clean it before adding new seasoning to remove the current oil layer. Add half a cup of vinegar and two tablespoons of baking soda to one cup of boiling water. Wash the copper pan or pot with the mixture, then follow the steps above to season your cookware.
When Not to Use Copper Pans
Don’t use copper pots and pans to store food since acidic food can dissolve the interior lining and leach copper into your food. Some acidic foods include wine, vinegar, lemon juice, and fruit juice.
Don’t use your copper cookware if the lining is chipped off, dinged up, scratched, or damaged in any way, since the cookware is no longer safe for cooking. A tin lining is replaceable, but a stainless steel lining is irreplaceable.
Avoid unlined copper cookware since the copper will leak into your food during cooking. Copper is poisonous and will accumulate in your body if you use unlined copper cookware.
Does Copper Cookware Work on Induction Cooktops?
Copper pots and pans are not induction-compatible because they are not ferromagnetic, meaning they are magnetic. An induction stove uses magnetic flux to heat pots and pans through magnetic induction. That’s why cast-iron and stainless steel cookware are better suited for induction cooking.
Advantages of Copper Cookware
Let’s look at the pros of using copper pans and pots:
1. Even Heating
Copper cookware is a great heat conductor and spreads heat evenly throughout the cooking surface. In contrast, stainless steel takes longer to warm up and heat the surface evenly.
2. Uniform Temperature Control
Copper cookware companies are famous for providing even temperatures and control with their utensils, and that’s why many professional kitchens use copper cookware. It is also great for home chefs and enthusiasts making delicate sauces and dishes.
3. Antimicrobial Properties
Copper is naturally resistant to germs and bacteria. An interior lining with other materials, such as steel or tin, creates a barrier between food and the copper exterior and keeps it safe.
4. Visually Appealing
Copper cookware is attractive and gives an aesthetic look to your kitchen. Many home cooks purchase copper cookware because it looks gorgeous. Some people place it on countertops or hang their copper collections off kitchen ceilings to showcase the rustic look.
Disadvantages of Copper Cookware
Here are some cons to using copper utensils:
There’s no denying that copper cookware is expensive because it is a precious metal and comes with a wide range of features. It’s good to have a copper pot in your kitchen if you can afford it since versatile metal utensils will help cook delicious dishes.
2. Suitable for Occasional Cooking
Copper-core utensils are not suitable for frequent or everyday cooking purposes. It has excellent heat conduction properties, but retaining heat distribution for bigger dishes, such as cooking meat or steaks is difficult. Moreover, it distributes heat unevenly, leading to cold and hot spots in the food. It can also burn food and delicate proteins due to a lack of heat retention.
3. High-Maintenance Copper Cookware
Cleaning and maintaining copper cookware requires great effort, time, and patience. You must polish and clean it daily to prevent discoloration and oxidizing effects.
Which is the best cookware? It all depends on personal preference and style. Copper cookware has a rustic look that immediately attracts viewers. It is a great conductor of heat and a popular cooking surface for many professional chefs. A home cook can also use copper utensils with ease. However, they must have an interior lining so copper doesn’t leak into your food. Polish it regularly, whether it has a lacquer or a brushed finish. Copper reacts quickly with acidic foods, so don’t store such foods in copper cookware.